1. The ultimate guide to the best places in Kyoto

The ultimate guide to the best places in Kyoto

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Takumu Ogama

I have been living in Kyoto, Japan since I was born. I have a lot of friends in other countries. So, I know how poor their knowledge about Kyoto is. That is why I am trying to share food, culture, and stuffs like those with people around the world. I hope my articles will be useful for your trip.

As a reader of this website, you must be a world traveler who has been to many countries or who just loves and respects the different cultures.
“Seeing is believing”, traveling is the best way to find the real culture, people, foods and much more.
That is why traveling is so much fun.
Once you have read the article, and you are in Kyoto, we are sure that you will be as knowledgeable as the Kyoto locals!

So let’s get started!

1. The 3 best places to visit during the morning

In the morning in Kyoto, a new day to start, fresh air, fewer cars and fewer tourists so quiet and relax, it is just pleasant before Kyoto is getting busier and busier towards the late of the day.
But the resident monks at the temples and shrines are early birds, have early start every day so you might hear their chanting during walking.
There is an old way to say, “Hayaoki ha sanmon no toku” which means “The early bird catches the worm”! There are many good things happen if you start early.

So it is the best that you start your day in the morning to have longer day instead of staying in a bed to miss a lot of beauty, the birds are singing, it is comfortable to walk around as the temperature is not high even in summer.
You don’t need to rush to visit too many places in the morning, but you can find a cafe very easy in Kyoto so you can sit down and have a yummy coffee at the cafe and relax. Then you can decide where you go first of the day after relax you are ready to go!

Arashiyama, the bamboo forest

What a magnificent view of the bamboo forest in Arashiyama, Sagano and so stunning to see the numbers of so many bamboos at once!

Firstly, let us explain the relationship between the bamboo and Japanese.
The bamboo has been relating with Japanese for a long time, the symbol of prosperity in Japan as the bamboo is a very strong plant, growing very high. As you know bamboo is used for so many Japanese gardens also it is made of shinai – bamboo sword for Kendo which is the one of Japanese martial art – for a long time.

You will walk along the narrow street along both sides are just bamboos and its green. The bamboos are so high easily more than 10 meters.
Can you imagine yourself walking in the bamboo forest, you get lots of ions and the forest bathing to make you have a fresh feeling.

So the bamboo forest in Arashiyama is very popular and both Japanese and non-Japanese would love to visit making the bamboo forest very busy.
You don’t want to walk in the bamboo forest in rush, surrounded by too many people.

That is why the best timing to go to the famous bamboo forest in Arashiyama is in the morning.
There are some reasons:
– the nature of the freshness in the morning is wonderful
– fewer tourists both Japanese and non-Japanese compare to the after lunch time
– the sound from the bamboos and the birds singing are most affected for healing
– it is close to Katsuragawa-river so it is a quite popular place by the locals

Google map: https://goo.gl/maps/5h9atLthPgk

 smart coffee, an independent cafe

Cafe culture in Japan has been very popular for among Japanese people and there so many chain coffee shops all over Japan.
Those chain coffee shops have a variety of flavors, eco-friendly mugs, and tumblers. Their business has been expanding so fast and make people enjoy the culture.

But it is sometimes nice to go to an independent cafe. You feel something special maybe nostalgic and appreciate how long they have been running the cafe with their style.

Here is a very classic Japanese cafe which is called “smart coffee” in Kyoto’s downtown since 1932.
There are many different type of coffee both hot and ice also soft drink, costs are from just 500 yen to 700 yen.
Their pancake is very yummy, homemade pudding as well.
But let us pick up their famous egg sandwich to recommend.
It is Kyoto version sandwich because the egg is not a mayo-egg but a thick slice of the omelet with dashi-stock so taste very nice sandwiched between two very fluffy pieces of white bread.

smart coffee opens from 8 am, there is always cue with the people including the local Japanese so it is the best to go in the morning and get a seat for yummy breakfast at smart coffee.

Opening time: 8:00-19:00
URL: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g298564-d7098974-Reviews-Smart_Coffee-Kyoto_Kyoto_Prefecture_Kinki.html
– Please be aware that smart coffee will be closed from the 1st August to the middle of October due to their renovation.

Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/JMrVN2ru1Nr

 Fushimi Inari shrine

Such a famous shrine, Fushimi Inari shrine is the head shrine of the god Inari and one of the most visited Shinto shrines in Japan.
Any guidebooks or website have the information of Fushimi Inari shrine with the fantastical 1,000 red torii gates.

Almost everyone who visits Kyoto would love to visit Fushimi Inari shrine, therefore, the later the busier.
We strongly recommend that you visit Fushimi Inari shrine in the morning then you have quietness and your space during waking.
If you are able to get there at around 7 o’clock in the morning, there is a guarantee there are only a few people.
The benefits of going to Fushimi Inari shrine in the morning is fewer people, fresh air, you take your own space going up and down and taking pictures without other people.
Adding that, if you go there in the morning you have plenty of time after that.
Fushimi Inari shrine is on top of an sm mountain so that it is like you are enjoying a trekking at the same time!

URL: http://inari.jp/en/

Google Map: 

2. The 3 best places to visit during the daytime

Always so many tourists in Kyoto through the day and through the year. It seems the tourists take it easy and start their day going out around after 10 am and move to get the first place so that daytime becomes the busiest time.
It is nice to have lively atmosphere rather than empty.
Because you have visited at least one place in the morning, you don’t mind the crowd.

Gion, Arashiyama, downtown, etc, there are many places you would love to visit in Kyoto.
People usually hope the good weather during their trip so that they enjoy strolling without an umbrella and keep going but rain also make Kyoto more beautiful and create a taste as well that you will find whilst you are in Kyoto.
You just enjoy every moment and all weather.

Let’s introduce the 3 best places during the daytime!

 Kinkaku-Ji temple

Kinkaku-Ji temple, officially named as Rokuon-ji and it is a Zen temple in Kyoto build in 1394.
It is one of the most popular buildings in not only Kyoto but Japan to attract a large number of visitors annually.
It is designated as a National special historic site, a National special landscape, one of 17 locations making up the Historic monuments of ancient Kyoto which is World heritage site.
It is bright gold, shiny, beautiful and unique, stand out with a pond that mirrors the invert of the temple.
There are so many to see of the building but also a beautiful strolling garden.

You will be amazed to see the golden pavilion is shiny and looks so magnificent when you visit daytime and cannot stop looking at the combination between the golden pavilion, the pond and trees surrounded.
The atmosphere of all is stunning and special with lots of nature. Kyoto gets very cold in winter but Kinkaku-Ji temple with snow looks amazing.
We recommend that you take a bus from Kyoto station to get to Kinkaku-Ji temple.

Opening time: 9:00-17:00

Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/v6qZE4ci9MM2

Kyoto Downtown

Shopping is definitely one of the pleasures of the trip.
You would love to visit the historical places but also shopping for fun. Then we can recommend going to downtown Kyoto.
It is a full pack for your shopping as there are a department store, local shopping area, and Nishiki-market so that you can buy everything you want such as foods, sweets, trendy clothes, Japanese accessories, of course, Japanese souvenirs and lots more.
Downtown is not for young people but there are many things anyone can enjoy.
It would be just nice having a matcha ice cream or your favorite crape in your hand during exploring!

Kikyo sushi restaurant

Do you think Japanese food is the best when you travel to Japan? and you can not miss sushi if you think so.
There are expensive sushi restaurants to kaiten-sushi restaurants in Kyoto.
But the best is good quality but reasonable, isn’t it?
Then there is one sushi restaurant which is called “Kikyo sushi” in Kyoto.
It is a real sushi restaurant with a sushi master at the counter.
If you go for lunch it is just less than 1,000 yen but those are served by sushi master. You can order Nigiri but also Chirashi sushi.
The credit card is accepted.

Opening time: lunch11:30-13:30 dinner17:00-21:00
URL: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g298564-d9616696-Reviews-Kikyo_Sushi-Kyoto_Kyoto_Prefecture_Kinki.html

Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/uiYaH93XNB62



Among the myriad cultural experiences Kyoto offers, the Hochoshiki Knife ceremony stands out as a profound reflection of Japan’s storied craftsmanship and culinary heritage. This ceremonial practice, deeply rooted in tradition, showcases the ceremonial use and appreciation of Japanese knives, which are not just tools but revered objects of art. Such an experience not only enriches one’s understanding of Japanese culinary arts but also offers a unique glimpse into the rituals that have shaped Kyoto’s cultural landscape.


A sacred place for Japanese food, a treasure house of ingredients, Minami-Boso Takaya Shrine Kitchen knife ceremony "Ryumon-no-Koi" long story: edited by Minamiboso City Tourism Association Channel


3. The 3 best places to visit during the night

The nightlife in Kyoto is great, you might meet Geisha in Gion on a stone paved street or just entering an ocha-ya It is so special and might happen once in your life.
But also there are the bars, the clubs and the restaurants in Kyoto that you will enjoy and complete your day.


KITSUNE is a club in Kiya-machi Dori, Kyoto where the youngsters go and get together to enjoy live music and dance.
KITSUNE has been casting very famous DJ from Japan and abroad to entertain.
There are the 4th floor (smoking area) and the 3rd floor (non-smoking area).
It is interesting that each floor has a different type of music and the 4th floor is always with more people.

Opening time: Sunday-Thursday22:00-4am Friday and Saturday21:00-5am
URL: https://kitsune-kyoto.com/

Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/Sm43no2p8tz
Please check the website to find more information and the fees, there is “Happy rainy day”, “World cup cheering support” and more events.

Bar Atlantis

Bar Atlantis is located in Ponto-Cho just along Kamogawa river.
After the gorgeous Japanese cuisine, you might want one shot with some nibbles then Bar Atlantis is the ideal bar with over 70 kinds of the single malts whiskeys, over 30 kinds of bourbons and the cocktails as well.
You might find a restaurant in Kyoto with Kawadoko along the kaomogawa river, Kawadoko is wooden patio over the river to cool you down and enjoy the meal.
Bar Atlantis has Kawadoko, so If you are in Kyoto summer especially, you definitely go to Bar Atlantis to have some shots on Kawadoko to relax and enjoy chatting with maybe Japanese customers how good your trip has been.
The foods at Bar Atlantis also great such as Japanese style nibbles, cheeses, and others.

Opening time: 18:00-2am

Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/yWttZckQ6qE2


Miyagawa-cho is the one of the Kyoto Gokagai includes Gion which is the historic Geisha district, the area south of Shijo street and along the Kamogawa river and both sides lines with Machiya style houses.
Geisha culture represents Kyoto very much and there are many Ocha-ya.
So in a dusk, the Japanese lanterns are lighting up and that makes Miyagawa-cho romantic and beautiful.
It is fewer tourists than Hanami koji-Dori rather than it is for locals as if it is a private place for you.
In summer, it is a little bit cooler because of a stone paved street.

Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/8qPTTuvHPbB2


So, we introduced three each place for the morning, the day and the night. Hope you found some places interesting or having the feeling you will visit all of them whilst you are in Kyoto.
We hope you will enjoy your very special trip to Kyoto!

Thank you for reading!